“We hope to entertain. We have to have some fun,” said lead commentator Aaron Murphy as he returned to the airwaves to cover Elite League ice hockey, giving us as viewers a warm blanket of comfort knowing our sport is back.
His distinct North American tone is synonymous with our sport now in this country, so seeing him, Paul Adey and Chris Ellis back together again is like seeing your favourite band reunite after some time apart. You know it’s going to be good.
After the delay, there they were. Aaron and Paul standing in the Steelers locker room, discussing the game we were about to watch, like two pals relaxed from a golfing break, ready to get back to it. This time under the banner of Premier Sports as part of the new sponsorship deal.
Hovering next to the rink like a man possessed was the familiar face of Ellis, ditching the tie for a more smart casual look, but with a sidekick in newcomer Caitlin Berry, a new addition to the team and who looked more than capable despite it being her debut appearance.
Seeing the faces back lets you forgive the delay in the start to the coverage, starting at 3.50pm instead of the advertised 3.30pm, leaving fans a little frustrated, tweeting furiously to the station as though they were blissfully unaware they’d been showing a selection of La Liga goals.
By all accounts, the team suffered terrible technical issues and had to muddle through. They did a creditable job and you have to remember, these things happen.
Importantly, we didn’t miss anything of the game and what a game it proved to be. Sheffield Steelers versus Cardiff Devils is a mouthwatering contest at the best of times so this was the ideal way to kick off the new season of coverage.
The camera position seemed rather far away so trying to watch for the puck was tricky, especially on a cluttered ice pad carrying more sponsor logos than is surely necessary, but that wasn’t the fault of the broadcaster.
The coverage itself was what you’ve come to expect from watching this team on FreeSports in recent years. Murph with his slick deliveries, one-liners and genuine enthusiasm for the game.
Alongside him, Paul Adey, a former player, coach and league winner who gives us the sage insight and analysis we should expect from a man with the experience he has.
So excited to be back with these two beauties again @MurphOnIce @Padey22. Thrilled to welcome the newest member of our team @caitlinsports. We will be bringing you all the news from rinkside. Join us now for @steelershockey v @cardiffdevils on @PremierSportsTV in @officialEIHL pic.twitter.com/TuYOzzjZHX
— Chris Ellis (@ChrisEllyEllis) September 26, 2021
There were issues, but they were little ones. The delay in starting, one assumes, was technical, however the absence of a score line and clock in the top left of the screen left me missing it more than I thought I would.
So, televised regular season hockey is back and yes, there are some still unhappy at the transition from FreeSports to its pay sister channel, but it’s here and we can watch it. That’s what he want.
The technical issues shouldn’t be so much of a far going forward, so it’s onwards and upwards and the next televised feast is Steelers heading to Coventry Blaze. If that game is half as dramatic as this one was, we’re in for a treat.
Hopefully, Murph will start the game with his trademark “Pitter, patter, let’s get at her” instead of the more subdued “buckle up, we’re underway.”
Welcome back, guys. It’s good to see you again.